Monday, July 26, 2004

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

Kenzaburo Oe, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids
It had been a while since I last read The Plague, that existential classic by Camus, so, when scanning the dust jacket of Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, and seeing the words "plague," "Camus," and "existential hero" within mere paragraphs of each other, I thought why not? After all, it sat on the "classics" rack in my local library.

Kenzaburo Oe's style is described as "grotesque realism," and the description fits.
Dogs, cats, fieldmice, goats, even foals; scores of animal carcasses were piled up forming a small hill, quietly and patiently decomposing. The beasts' teeth were clenched, their pupils melting, their legs stiff. Their dead flesh and blood had turned into thick mucus making the yellow withered grass and mud around sticky, and--strangely full of life and holding out against the fierce onslaught of decay--there were countless ears.
The ears, in their way, symbolize the plight of juvenile delinquents abandoned to a plague by paranoid villagers. They attempt to create a new life within the confines of the deserted village, but their success is short-lived.

I don't know if disappointment is the right word. It is breezy, thanks to its clipped sentences; it is graphic and disturbing; it is ultimately tragic; but somehow, I missed the emotional connection, the "enormous impact" (as the Washington Post put it). I guess I'll have to read The Plague again.


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